Regional Centre, Coonoor, The Nilgiris.
The Nilgiris which literally mean the ‘Blue Mountains’ derives its name from the blue haze that covers the wooded slopes. The area with high mountain ranges, beautiful valleys and salubrious climate supporting a wide range of flora and fauna is so enchanting that it rightly earned the name “the Queen of Hills” and Doddabetta, the second highest peak in south India is the crest of hills. Elevation of the tea gardens ranges from 1000 to 2634 m and the district receives an annual rainfall varying from 1000 to 1500 mm. Besides being the largest tea tract in south India, its name is associated with all virtues that go to make a good cup of tea and is appropriately referred to as the “southern Darjeeling”.The high elevation coupled with its characteristics cold, dry and mist weather provide the quality attraction to the Nilgris teas which are responsible for flavors, and exquisitely aromatic accompanied by a creamy mouth feel.
Nilgiris has the distinction of being the first district to grow tea in south India and occupies a prestigious position. Being the largest tea tract with an area of about 43,000 ha, it is rightfully called the tea land of south India. The prestige of Nilgiris tea is as high as its elevation and the region is quite often referred to as “Southern Darjeeling”. Climatic conditions in this district are characterized by cold, dry and misty weather during most part of the year. These conditions are known to accentuate the production of desirable volatiles responsible for overall aroma of black tea. During 2008, Nilgiri orthodox teas accorded the “Geographical Indication” status. The corporate sector mostly produces conventional orthodox teas while the small grower sector produces mostly CTC teas. Total tea production from this area is 102 m.kg.
The Regional Centre advises the estates in the Coonoor, Kotagiri, Kundha and Ooty areas in the Nilgiris and Palghat district in Kerala on all aspects of cultivation and processing of tea. The quality assurance lab, accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), in the centre is equipped to analyze black tea for PFA parameters, liquor and other chemical constituents. The laboratory is well equipped with sophisticated instruments to undertake the analyses of soils, fertilizers, micronutrients, dolomite and other agrochemicals. The centre also pays attention to the interests of the small tea growers in the Nilgiris. Several experiments relating to agronomy, pest control, organic tea and irrigation are being conducted by the scientists at the centre. Apart from these experiments, the centre also carries out experiments in tea factories on manufacture.